Iran receives $6B as assets unfrozen by US ahead of prisoner swap

(Update 1: updates lede, adds information)

Tehran, Sep 18 (EFE).- The governor of the Central Bank of Iran, Mohammad Reza Farzin, confirmed on Monday that the country had received just over 5.57 billion euros ($5.94 billion) in two banks in Qatar as part of funds unfrozen by the United States, paving the way for the exchange of five prisoners between Tehran and Washington.

Farzin said in a press conference that a total of 5,573 million euros were deposited in six Iranian accounts in two Qatari banks.

The release of assets belonging to Iran, which had been blocked in South Korea, is part of an agreement that Iran and the US reached in early August for the exchange of prisoners.

The US approved a waiver for the release of funds – debts incurred by Seoul for the purchase of gas from Iran – and the money has been transferred to several accounts in Qatar.

The US has said that Iran will not have “direct” access to the money, which could only be used “strictly for humanitarian purposes”.

The spokesperson for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, confirmed that both countries would complete the prisoner swap on Monday.

“The prisoner exchange will take place on the same day and five Iranian citizens imprisoned in America will be released,” he said.

The diplomat added that two of the Iranian citizens will return to Iran, another two will remain in the US and the fifth will travel to a third country.

According to local media, the US prisoners to be released are Siamak Namazi, Emad Shargi, Morad Tahbaz and two other unidentified people. They will be transported to Qatar in the early afternoon.

Hours before the announcement of the prisoners swap, the Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi set off for New York to address the UN Assembly, where he is expected to give a press conference, according to Iranian media.

Iran has been accused of using dual national and foreign prisoners as a pressure tactic for prisoner exchanges with other states, a practice described as “hostage diplomacy” by other countries and human rights organizations.EFE


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